Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sloe Gin Fizz Cocktail - the Gloss

Sloe Gin Fizz

Dating from at least 1898, the sloe gin fizz is a cocktail that has led several lives. Before prohibition it was famous for its sweet – tart flavor, then it came back in the 70s as a low-rent, cheap thrill. Now its reborn in its original form.

Sloe gin is made from ‘sloes’ – the hard, tart, ruby colored fruit of the blackthorn - similar to cranberries. It comes from the UK, but few companies make it because everybody’s aunt makes their own by steeping sloe berries in a bottle of gin. By contrast, what has been made and sold in the US for the past 50 years is a very sweet cheap synthetic product.

The Plymouth Sloe Gin you’ll be tasting tonight is the real thing, made using an 1883 recipe and real fruit. I’ve been looking for a year, but only saw my first bottle of it in the US eight weeks ago.

Fizzes are one of the oldest forms of cocktails, dating from at least 1866. Your “Plain Gin Fizz” is gin, lemon, sugar, and seltzer water. For a sloe gin fizz, replace some of the gin with sloe gin. And then there’s egg white.

The use of eggs in drinks is also very old – from at least the 1690s - but sometime in the late 1800s people stopped stirring eggs in and started shaking them. A silver fizz is a gin fizz with egg white, golden fizz is a gin fizz with egg yolk, and royal fizz is a gin fizz with both parts of the egg. So you might say that we are having tonight is a “silver” sloe gin fizz. But no one calls it that.

In a properly prepared cocktail, raw egg white adds a light creamy texture, somewhat like drinking a cloud. I can still remember the first drink I ever had with egg white – a silver fizz - in the bar at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong in 1986. Ironically, it is likely that the reason eggs disappeared from cocktails is that it is hard work to properly shake a drink with egg white – it needs to be shaken, hard, for at least one, but preferably two minutes. Before prohibition, the Ramos Brothers in New Orleans employed 35 muscle men a night to shake the famous Ramos Fizzes. Tonight, we will rely on a blender.

Most people are shy of raw eggs, fearing an unknown texture, salmonella, or perhaps that famous scene in the Japanese film Tampopo. However no one is afraid of eating cookie dough – unless they fear the calories. Most cookie dough contains raw eggs – which should give you an idea of the level of risk.

Tonight’s choice of drink inspired in no small measure by the desire of The Polynesian Princess. Also, it is the first time that we have tried to make cocktails with egg white on this scale, so please bear with us if we take a few minutes with each round of drinks. And don’t forget to read about tonight on our blog,
“Cocktails at 80”

Being a Philosophic Inquiry into the Application of the More Philosophy of Responsible Hedonism to the Enjoyment of All Aspects of Cocktails


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